Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Lord Of The Dance performer Connor tells of Taiwan earthquake horror

By Laura Abernethy

Published 08/02/2016

Connor Smyth (right) with Michael Flatley
Connor Smyth (right) with Michael Flatley
A rescue worker lowers a victim from a collapsed building in Tainan

A Co Down man caught up in the Taiwan earthquake has spoken of the terrifying moment his hotel room began to shake from the massive tremors.

Connor Smyth, a dancer from Newtownards, was in the country on tour with Michael Flatley's Lord Of The Dance show when the quake struck in the early hours of Saturday.

Rescuers have been battling to find some of the more than 100 people who are still missing in the city of Tainan. At least 26 people are dead after buildings crumbled following the 6.4 magnitude quake.

Connor and the rest of the cast, including Cathal Byrne from Omagh and Sean McHugh from Belfast, were staying in Kaohsiung, about 36 kilometres northeast of the epicentre.

He said he was woken at around 4am as the whole of his 10th floor room shook around him.

He said: "At first I thought I was dreaming.

"I realised pretty soon that it was in fact an earthquake, and a pretty serious one at that. Everything in the room was shaking.

"I could feel the whole building swaying and I went straight to the window and looked out; I could see another high rise building visibly swaying.

"I heard screaming and crying coming from the corridor so I went straight to the door to see if someone was hurt - it was girls from my cast panicking."

They felt the building shuddering for around 30 seconds and said that it continued to sway for a few seconds after that, but no one from the production was hurt.

Connor added: "It was like something from a film, although the shaking and swaying was violent, I was pretty calm.

"About an hour-and-a-half later we felt an aftershock, which was a tremor for a few seconds. Thankfully for us there was no major visible damage in our surrounding area, our building was pretty modern."

The cast and crew of the world famous Irish dance production had performed in Tainan, the worst affected city, on Friday evening, but were staying in nearby Kaohsiung.

They had left Tainan around 11pm, just five hours before the earthquake rocked the city.

It brought down the 17 storeys of the Weiguan Jinlong (Golden Dragon) apartment complex, home to more than 250 people.

By last night 26 people, including a six-month-old baby, had died and although rescuers saved around 170 people from the rubble, hopes are beginning to fade for the 100 still missing.

As the cast prepared to fly home for a short break before starting the next leg of the world tour in North America, Connor said they were shocked by the images appearing on news channels around the world.

He said: "Seeing the footage and photographs on the news is horrendous, it puts things into perspective when you see such a tragedy so close to where we were staying, especially because we were in the city just a few hours before."

Creator of Lord Of The Dance Michael Flatley tweeted: "May God bless all affected by the Tainan earthquake. My cast and crew had just left the city. We pray at this time for those less fortunate."

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph